May 6, 2021

Lockdown fatigue song "Friends Like This" by Hey Violet

Here's the newest song from Hey Violet, best known for "Guys My Age" from several years ago. It's a corona song that's not about the anxiety caused by the disease threat itself, unlike "Level of Concern" by Twenty One Pilots from last year. It's more about the boredom, restlessness, and frustration over social isolation caused by the protocols that were supposed to curb the pandemic (but which have failed and nevertheless seem to be here indefinitely).

Hopefully it's a sign that public attitudes have begun to turn against the protocols, having saddled everyone with such a crushing burden, while delivering no protection for the vulnerable. If people felt like there were an even trade-off, I don't think young alt bands would be grumbling about the costs needed to save old people. Rather, we didn't save hardly any of them last fall / winter, but we've had to put up with this insane degradation of our daily lives nonetheless. It has been lose-lose, not a trade-off.

The tone is subdued for now, not aggressive enough to qualify as a protest anthem, but still an earnest plea mixed with some black humor, to show that it's a serious matter. Serious enough to induce gallows humor, and to cause people to air their grievances. It's like "The Message" by Grandmaster Flash, just less fed-up and sick-of-it-all.

But the longer these burdens drag on, with no benefits to be enjoyed, the mood will get more insistent and confrontational, a la "We're Not Gonna Take It" by Twisted Sister. Still, changing behaviors have to start somewhere.

April 26, 2021

Radio's dead: contempo stations stop playing current music (signs of a Dark Age)

Continuing the series on the new cultural Dark Age that has begun setting in, let's look at pop music.

No, we will not be subjectively evaluating today's music and contrasting it to some Golden Age or another from the past.

Rather, the signs of this Dark Age are objective -- if you were to listen to the radio, you'd have little awareness that pop music has existed in the 2020s.

The source here is the "contemporary hit" format -- the stations that are supposed to play the hot new stuff that everyone's buzzing about, not retro, and not from just one genre. These are the stations that you're supposed to complain about for "only playing new stuff" and not appreciating anything good from the past, just one damned pop hit after the next in an endless flux of fashion.

After not listening to my local contempo hit station for a few months, I wondered what they were up to -- what new songs are all the rage 3 months since I last checked in? There's always the algorithms from the big online platforms to suggest new things, but I'm talking about what's actually catching on, growing, and lasting.

Shockingly, there were hardly any new songs at all. I double-checked their "recently played" list on their website, and it has been like that for days. It's not like I happened to check during a "blast from the past" hour. Saturday night played a few more new songs, but not much. Overall, they're simply not playing new music.

What are they playing instead? Mainly music from the 2010s, across a variety of genres, and emphasizing the late part rather than the early part of the decade. But you're still more likely to hear early 2010s music than 2020s music on the contempo hit station.

Especially when you count by distinct songs, rather than total airtime -- they might play one of Ariana Grande's hits from this year or the last, five times throughout the day. But they'll play five different songs from the early 2010s over the same period. Only a tiny handful of new songs are making it into rotation.

Even worse, hit songs that they were playing last year have disappeared from their playlists. "I Love Me" by Demi Lovato, "Midnight Sky" by Miley Cyrus, "Break My Heart" by Dua Lipa, "Willow" by Taylor Swift, "Monsters" by All Time Low, and dozens of others by mega-stars, have vanished from the airwaves. (And no new acts are taking their place!)

So it's not like the station is unaware of new hit music from the current decade -- they played a fair amount of it last year. Rather, they are deliberately erasing the signature that "the 2020s were here" in the guestbook of the pop cultural record.

I noticed a somewhat similar pattern early last year, where they seemed wary to play new songs from the new decade, and were still relying heavily on 2019 and even '18. However, they did not stretch farther back than those couple years, certainly not back into 2010. Eventually they did play new songs, so perhaps they were just hesitant at first.

But this year, they are not doing that reluctant-at-first bit. They're just not playing new stuff -- and crucially, hardly anything from the last year either.

If it were a matter of relative years -- "current" vs. "last" year -- then their reluctance in 2021 would mean most of their playlist would be from 2020, with only a handful of older years thrown in for variety. But there's not even much from 2020 still being played, including the hits that dominated that own station's airwaves and the charts for all of last year.

Instead, it is a matter of absolute years -- "2020 and 2021" vs. "2019 and before". They were hesitant to play 2020s music last year, and they're even more hesitant to play 2020s music this year. (Maybe 5 songs from each year of the 2020s, played over and over again.)

All of the 2010s music in their rotation is not "last year's music" -- it's from 2 years ago at least, up through 11 years ago. They've decided that it's not worth investing in the current decade -- and presumably any future decades -- to promote its songs, so might as well just play stuff from the last decade.

This is the first time in American culture when material from only a few years earlier has become "retro," as the current material is either not being made, or being distributed, or being demanded by audiences. Imagine in 1981 there being a '70s station, or in 2011 there being a 2000s station.

Not only has this never happened before -- a time period becoming a reified "remember when?" age only a few years after concluding -- but today, this is the newest music available. It would be bad enough if there were a dedicated 2010s decade station in 2021, but far more dire if that were the most recent music being played. And yet here we are.

Contrary to the "singularity" view of these developments, we are not in a climate where new stuff is being created, distributed, and consumed one day -- and then treated as retro and due for a revival the next. There is no "instantaneous nostalgia" or whatever.

Rather, this is a process of exhaustion and breakdown. Creators may not be able to collaborate well enough to make new hit songs. Distributors may not want to promote anything new because they don't trust the creators to give them songs that will sell like hotcakes, or don't trust audiences to gobble them up. And audiences may not trust the creators or the distributors to give them what they're hankering for.

Whatever the variety of forces involved, it all smacks of an unraveling of cooperation, collaboration, trust, and collective investment in a total musical culture. There's not going to be another phenomenon in music, no more scenes, and no more sub-cultures (a topic covered here recently).

At some level, the American people -- or better yet, people living in America -- no longer feel like being bound together by a common culture that is distinctly theirs, and that is so captivating it's eagerly adopted all over the world.

We're at the stage of imperial decline where it's not only the political and economic domains showing signs of exhaustion, but now the culture-makers too can squeeze no more blood from their stone.

And for the same reasons -- plummeting levels of "asabiya," or the potential for a group to pursue concerted collective action, out of a sense that the in-group is special and destined for greatness. When that fades away, it not only means the end of far-flung territories staying integrated into the empire, it means the end of the larger-than-life culture that the empire produced.

Roman culture ended during the Crisis of the Third Century, and American culture has ended in the wake of the catastrophe year of 2020.

April 22, 2021

Aimee Terese triumphant tribute song: "Spectrum Chick" (David Guetta parody)

It's been awhile since I've done one of these, but what better occasion than the triumphant return of the princess of the anti-woke left to her OG Twitter account, shellshocking the demented hall monitors who kept reporting her respawns?

Why her, you may have asked over the course of these Aimee tribute songs? She just radiates such an all-consuming intensity -- like a Fairuz of shitposting -- that it's impossible not to be possessed by her if you're susceptible to muses. That's equally true for her haters, who can never get her out of their head, lmao.

This one is to the tune of "Sexy Bitch" by David Guetta feat. Akon from 2009 (original lyrics here). I went with the "chick" version of the lyrics, to stay faithful to the original tone, which mixes a complimenting and a playful-negging word ("sexy" and "bitch"). "Spectrum" is a playful neg, so there needs to be a complimenting word to pair with -- "chick" rather than "bitch". She's a bruh-girl and needs her compliments tempered by negs.

Singing it aloud would make it clear, but the prosody in the first line of the chorus goes: ON the SO-cial PLAT-FORMS, with both syllables of that final word receiving stress, and a brief rest in between them.

* * *

Log on to read her
Cuz everyone sayin' "That's the tea" yuh
Unceasing tweeter
I feel deranged and I wanna breed her

They say she red-brown
It's just a cope and I won't retweet 'em
They try to drive her underground
The baddest MENA account around

She's not like other girls on the social platforms
Not leftie millionaires, or a gamer-gone-woke
I'm tryna find the nerve to subscribe this girl
And not put her on a pedestal

The way she prophesyin' in a Tinkerbell tone
Have to stop what I'm scrolling so I can quote her post
I'm tryna find the nerve to subscribe this girl
And not put her on a pedestal

Oooh, girl!

Mmm, you's a spectrum chick
On the spectrum chick
Mmm, you's a spectrum chick

Oooh, girl!

Mmm, you's a spectrum chick
On the spectrum chick
Mmm, you's a spectrum chick

Oooh, girl!

April 20, 2021

Aimee Terese, back from the dead, for good (mua ha ha...)

A night wind howls over a shallow grave in Twittermoor Cemetery, blowing away the dry pebbly dirt to reveal tortoiseshell eyeglass frames.

Something metallic is glinting in the light of the full moon -- a sugar-free Red Bull can.

Double-H cup tits punch through the earth, grab onto the ground around them, and hoist the rest of a five-foot frame out of its cancel-casket.

Now showing, on mini-screens everywhere...

"Didja think I was gonna take my permaban lyin' down, ya jannie cunts?"

When she burns you online, your balls disappear in real life...

Matt Christman is rambling in a livestream about the dialectics of masturbation in the age of covid lockdowns, when he spies a dreaded username flash across the side of the screen.

"Oh great, that deranged Australian woman has entered the chat," he complains while rolling his eyes, and prepares his lungs for an impromptu diatribe.

Suddenly, a bark-encrusted beam of solid oak breaks through his iPhone, impaling him instantly, while dono-blood pours slowly from his mouth. As his gaze puzzles over the tree trunk plunging into his chest, a sing-song hummingbird voice plays over the TTS:

"It was about time for that guy to... log off."

No poster is safe...

"You know you love to hate-scroll me!"

A Spectre Haunting Left Street, Part 4/20: Aimee Lives

* * *

That's right, she's gotten her original account restored, complete with the iconic Red Bull avatar. God bless her guardian angels in what is otherwise the Hell of Silicon Valley.

We all know she's a sweetie, not a horror movie monster. But it's hilarious how her bugmen nemesis-posters view her as a dire, unstoppable threat like a slasher flick killer who can never be fully put to death.

Not only because it shows how thin-skinned and flimsy-minded they are, but because they're meme-ing her into some larger-than-online-life persona who all the cool kids are going to become fascinated by. Nobody wants to dress up as the victims of a slasher movie -- they want to emulate Jason and Freddie.

Their whole anti-Aimee discourse is rather like Wes Craven's New Nightmare, where merely fabricating a narrative for storytelling purposes actually brings its monster to life, crossing over from the narrative realm into the real-life realm to wreak havoc on its narrative creators.

Who said that "online isn't real"? Heh heh heh...

April 18, 2021

Bully the maskers outdoors

The tide has been turning over the past month or so in public behavior regarding the failed measures meant to stem the pandemic last year, especially the placebo masks. Now it is time for the early adopters of "no masks indoors" to push further into enemy territory -- and don't worry, it is very poorly defended, as you'll discover. This will keep the momentum building until the mandates are rolled back outright.

It's time to bully the lamewads who insist on wearing masks outdoors. Indoors, people are still torn, and you can't be sure that your target would be a true zealot. But by this point, anyone wearing one outdoors knows what they're perpetuating, and they open themselves up as fair game.

I'd been pondering this escalation for a few days, but today everything fell right into place, and I seized the moment. I was cruising down the main drag with Rick Springfield's greatest hits CD blasting out the windows, as throngs of people were filling the sidewalks on a sunny afternoon. Midway through "I've Done Everything for You," I caught sight of a joyless sourpuss of a woman in middle age, wearing a mask among a mostly face-baring crowd.

I turned down the music, raised my voice, deepened the pitch, and slowly escalated the intonation, like a stern father warning his children of bad consequences if they keep it up:

Take off the mask outdoors, BOOMER

Goddamn what an exhilarating attack, on such a deserving target! I was already on a rush from the sun, the tunes, the crowd, and from already having howled like a wolf at a thicc babe in running shorts only five minutes earlier. I was still going several blocks later, and let out a Ric Flair WOOO! just thinking about it.

These social-polluting hysterical zealots need to be punished for what they've done, but more importantly, everyone else needs to witness it. That way, the behavior will spread from the original role model (such as moi) to multiple waves of imitators. And even for those who don't take it up themselves, they'll know that the public battle has decisively shifted against the mask freaks.

That will help to shatter the conformity effect, even if they only witness one single guy doing it. Only one bullshit-caller was needed to shatter the illusion of the emperor's new clothes, or the "line comparison" experiments from social psychology.

"Wow, this must be the first time I've seen someone go on the offensive to bully the wearers of masks -- things have changed."

Fuckin' A they have, and everyone should understand that, the faster to undo these failed draconian measures.

Reflecting back on it, I don't think I could've improved anything. I picked a stereotypical killjoy Karen, who would get no sympathy from the fun-loving crowd. I didn't stop to bask in the victory, because traffic had to keep moving, but also it doesn't need to be a drawn-out confrontation -- a drive-by is perfectly fine, and gives them no chance to respond.

We're not debating them anymore, since they never responded with facts in the first place, like when you point out that cases soared exponentially throughout last year, despite all the measures imposed on or adopted by us. They do not need to be debated, they need to be bullied and defied.

She and any minority of fellow zealots did not respond by yelling back, naturally since they were caught off-guard because they assumed they would never become the targets of mask-based bullying themselves. Time for a rude awakening, bitches!

The setting was great, with a huge number of spectators witnessing that single event. No point in doing this at a park where you and the zealot are the only ones present.

Also, I've been deliberately telling myself for the past few weeks, "Don't call them a libtard, don't call them a libtard," in order to not drag partisan polarization into it. Especially if you're vastly outnumbered, as anyone in a city will be. Make it about the failed draconian policies per se, and the broader know-nothing technocracy that produced them. Plenty of urbanites, libs / progs / commies, and Democrat voters will be on board if it's not framed in a "Trump supporters vs. the libtards" way.

I mainly call them "lame" or some variation, to brand the failed measures as uncool and unworthy of imitation. But "Boomer" was a better fit for this context, since most people were not Boomers, and young people especially do not want to be associated with out-of-touch killjoy old people. If the local old people were normies and not wearing masks, obviously I wouldn't have used that term. And I don't care that she was a Gen X-er instead of a literal Boomer -- the crowd, and she, understood what I meant, and it cut deeper than using the accurate generational label.

Having new wave and power-pop music blasting out of the windows established that I was cool -- and if anyone could see inside the car, also hot. It's so crucial to frame this as fun-loving normal people against the joyless wannabe dictators, if any of our messages and behaviors are to spread.

Particularly when the spectators are from the post-X generations, as along a main drag. I don't think Zoomers have ever experienced a climate where people hurl insults out of the car window against a seemingly unprovoking but well-deserving target, like playing a verbal game of mailbox baseball. Some Millennials might remember this in a watered-down form from the late 2000s (if emos and preppies called each other faggots as they drove by), but they too could use some reminding.

These tactics will not work in reverse for the other side, since most people in the audience already do not sympathize with the policies. And just hearing a drive-by scolding won't make them more compliant -- it would backfire, if anything. Whereas when we do it against the zealots, it resonates with what most of the audience is already feeling, but is reluctant to admit or act on. It jolts the silent majority out of its slumber.

Something to keep in your bag of tricks for White Boy Summer.

April 9, 2021

Masks off

About a month ago I started wearing the mask loose so it didn't cover my nose. This was both to breathe more freely but also to start sending the signal to everyone else that the whole mask thing is over.

Then over the past two weeks, I've started to just not wear it at all while indoors -- to breathe even more freely, to de-dehumanize the social environment, and to signal even more unambiguously that we're not going to wear masks anymore.

Those of you who live in the Sun Belt, or in a rural area, may be familiar with this transition already. But if you're in the North, and in a city, this is still in the early adopter stage.

Since the face liberation movement is still inchoate, what follows are some impressions of who's simpatico and who's hostile, after the failure of the mask policy to end or even decelerate the growth of the coronavirus pandemic.

(I might write a separate post about the inability of grassroots individualism to solve collective problems at the top. This post is just about the changing climate right now.)

First, who else is doing it? It's men, ages 25 to 45, high testosterone, not necessarily counter-cultural, and not detectably Republican or Democrat. Yesterday I saw open faces on a 30-something MAGA dad with his daughter, a single Hispanic or Middle Eastern guy with a pony tail, and a punk / alt guy with his gf / wife (who was also not wearing a mask).

Basically, who's the most risk-taking, but also comfortable challenging authority legitimately -- e.g., if the policy does not work, we don't have to follow it anymore. If it were teenagers, that would stem more from a defiant impulse. If it's fully matured men, that's the go-ahead to treat it seriously and not as a bratty backlash.

Who is the most excited to see the mask come off? From my own experience, overwhelmingly girls from teenagers to 30-somethings. They suffer the most from facial coverings, because they have the cutest faces, unlike middle-aged and elderly women. Females are also more social / empathetic than males and need to see, and make, facial expressions in public. And at that age, they're more drawn to signs of risk-taking and bad-boy behavior in guys.

(NB: not "risk-taking" in terms of contracting the disease -- the masks have already proven ineffective at that. I mean in terms of risking someone hectoring them, threatening to kick them out of the store, and so on.)

This goes double when the bad-boy behavior is channeled in a pro-social direction, like getting rid of a failed and burdensome policy that the authorities are refusing to end themselves. Then it's not like stealing a car and going for a joyride, which would only attract a tiny minority of girls.

Fitness babes are pretty anti-mask. Two of the small number of women I've seen with no mask, or pulled down under their chin, were wearing their gym clothes, including the only woman I remember seeing without a mask several months ago when no one was going mask-free. I just so happened to see her again tonight at the thrift store, and in the same section (books), still without a mask.

But by far the most enthusiastic free-the-face girls are the MENA baddies -- no surprise if you read Aimee Terese or Leila Mechoui on Twitter. They will lock eyes for the longest, and get the most visibly horned up, at the sight of a bold decision-maker who's saving or protecting the group. We're providing cover for the rest of them to do likewise, at a cost to ourselves when we get hectored. It's not merely to preen as badasses while the chicks are looking.

One of the only girls I've seen without a mask -- and the only one who was under 30, and who was not potentially following the lead of her bf / husband -- was a MENA baddie with wild wavy hair who came strutting through the TJ Maxx doors with it pulled all the way down under her chin. Not even a pro forma full coverage while initially entering, and then stealthily removing it when there were no prying eyes. Just coming out guns-a-blazin'. She was a teenager, too, albeit accompanied by her mother and so perhaps feeling like someone else had her back if she got hectored.

Tonight at the supermarket "I Love It" came on over the sound system, and I started whistling along and hitting the side of my leg to the beat, when all of a sudden a mocha-licious southern Meddie turned the corner and stopped dead, gawking at me while I was browsing. She was wearing gym shorts and a hoodie in the local college colors, so in her early 20s living off-campus. I should have reciprocated the attention, strutted on over, and taken off her mask for her, unhooking it like a bra, and planted a kiss right on her lips.

However, that would have been a bit too far for social acceptability in a Midwestern supermarket, with lots of people around us. Maybe if no one else were watching...

It's possible that the guys in my vicinity are also excited to see masks coming off, but since 99% of them are not gay, they're not sending a signal back as eagerly as the girl spectators are. They'll keep it to themselves, talk to their friends about it afterward, and then go into a store with no mask themselves in a few days or weeks.

Who, then, are the most hostile? Not other men. Imagine how terminally cucked you would have to be to stop and wag your finger in another man's face about following a proven pointless policy. I'm sure a good amount of them do not approve, but they will never degrade themselves low enough to whine about it to my mask-free face. It's not only the fear that they are risking the start of a physical confrontation, for no tangible benefit to themselves or others. They would just feel like a pathetic little bitch, and that's bad enough.

Even the low-T "I FUCKING LOVE SCIENCE" soyboys will just silently stew in resentment IRL, and then bitch about it impotently on the internet afterward.

Instead, the finger-waggers are all women, roughly ages 30 to 50 or 60, nearly exclusively white founding stock, and in particular Germanic. (No surprise for a race addicted to following pointless rules for its own sake, even when there is no tradition or test of time to back it up). Fatter than average, including some who are downright obese. Mostly unattractive -- only one so far looked average, although hard to tell with the mask, and she was one of the most polite anyway.

It's split evenly whether they act confrontationally or politely, although if Midwestern niceness is not a phenomenon where you live, they could be more in-your-face about it.

I'm sure most of them are liberals, but some appeared conservative.

It seems like the same demographic who gets the most heavily propagandized by the media, because they see themselves as the stewards over the health of the nation. Foreigners, Ellis Islanders, kids of recent immigrants -- it's just not their society to dictate the terms over, and they know it. But women of founding stock feel it's their birthright to nag the citizenry into behaving according to the laws.

Don't interpret this as WASPy dominance, though. They're not upper class, but those with degrees from low-ranking colleges. They're strivers eager to prove to those with real wealth and power that they're good little teacher's pets and hall monitors, deserving of a promotion. For every maskless person I hector, can you pwetty pwease cancel $100 of my student loan debt?

So far it's split between workers and fellow customers. Three workers have told me to wear a mask on their own. Another one (and the only African-American) seemed like she might have been indulging a customer who had asked to speak to her manager or something.

As of now, I've been momentarily going along with the workers' requests, to get them off my case, and because I know it's coming from their boss or some irate customer, not them being a loser themselves. After a bit, I'll take the mask off again. But if a fellow customer barks anything at me, I shut them down and blow them off unambiguously, and as nonchalantly as possible, so they don't get the reward of getting a rise out of me.

The best is when they don't even bother arguing against "the masks are just a placebo," and instead go complain to the workers -- who then don't do shit to indulge the hysterical freak, and just let me be. I'm a regular at the places I frequent, and have been for years, so they know I'm good. They also don't want to have to add to their tasks on the job -- now they're supposed to follow me around the store and make sure I never once take off my mask? Bullshit, that's above my pay grade.

The best of all is when those workers are young women, the kind who are the most supportive of the face liberation movement, especially if it's regarding a random hot guy. Why would they possibly care, Karen? -- they're not a fat ugly menopausal psycho like you. I really have a heightened respect for those workers now, having stood up for me. I imagine them singing to themselves, "I'll keep you, my dirty little secret, dirty little secret, who has to know?" xD

Overall, the hostile types are rare, but that is irrelevant. All it takes is one to threaten your ability to free your face indoors. It is nice that there's not an entire army of them swarming at the same time, but they are frequent enough to present an obstacle during every visit to a store.

However, now that the trend is accelerating -- I didn't see anyone else without a mask last week, and this week I'm likely to see several others -- they have nowhere to go with their hectoring. They can already sense that this is the beginning of the end of the policy, and not because the government has lifted the mask mandate -- because people are sick of failed policies, and no one higher up is enforcing them.

Indeed, the whole point of masks was to devolve responsibility down to the individual. If the elites don't want to get involved, that includes enforcement of their own mandates. They would actually have to stick their neck out, put their foot down, threaten a confrontation with their underlings, and so on and so forth.

They would rather abdicate the chain of command altogether and live a degenerate life away from whatever troubles are going on in society. This is not the New Deal era of strong government, when the mayor, governor, or president might send in the police or the military to deal with even non-violent civil disobedience like sitting down at a whites-only lunch counter.

Today's leaders shirk the duties and costs of being a strong leader, and we're going to take advantage of that when they deliver pointless or harmful orders to the common people, unless we come at them specifically (like storming the Capitol building -- but not going mask-free into our local indoor public spaces).

April 6, 2021

Flirting with strangers resumes in public places

Over the course of late 2019 and 2020, I cataloged the signs of people coming out of their refractory states from the vulnerable phase of the 15-year excitement cycle. Girls catcalling guys, brushing up against guys in public, and so on and so forth -- things which had not happened to me since the summer of 2015, all of a sudden were coming roaring back.

Sometime after the theft of the election -- seems like the Capitol storming or Biden's inauguration -- everyone fled back into their cocoons. Staring down at phones became widespread overnight, when it had all but disappeared during the late 2010s. People swerving 10 feet away from you on the path around a park. Utterly hysterical anxiety, as people tried to figure out what was going to happen in the power vacuum after the coup against Trump and the Reagan-era GOP.

But now that there's a lull in outward signs of political instability (until the next major blow-up), people are starting to lighten up again, and are tentatively coming back out of their shells. The springtime weather certainly helps, especially with the birds-and-the-bees side of the return to social interaction.

The alt girls in particular have been wearing down my defenses, whether by locking eyes with me, following me around, or actually coming up to me and saying, I really like your outfit ^_^. Today I finally felt inspired enough to make the first move in complimenting them.

At one of my regular stops on the thrift store circuit, an adorable alt girl with tawny skin and a quirky purple bob of hair had followed me back into the men's clothing section, where I had been the only person browsing. She started making little moves to stand in the same aisle as me, though at the opposite end, to have plausible deniability in case I ignored her. But like an eager fishie, I took the bait and walked down her way, passing her as I turned around the end of the aisle, then remaining within 5 feet or so of her.

Unlike most alt girls -- and their scene girl ancestors -- this one was a butt girl, standing in a contrapposto while staring up at the t-shirt rack as though pondering a design exhibition (but inwardly focused on luring me closer). I don't even remember what she was wearing on top, all I could see was her buns pushed out to one side, in high-waisted jeans, a grommet belt, and Doc Martens. How could she tell I was a butt guy, and not a boob guy? Maybe she saw that I too was dressed to show off my butt, and figured birds of a feather flock together.

Another pass down the opposite aisle from her, so that she was standing across from me and making eye contact. I noticed she had one or two slits in her eyebrow -- typically a signal of being a lesbian, but given how eagerly she was following me around, maybe the bi girls have adopted it as well.

Then she came back to my aisle, heading right for me. OK, time to give little miss flirty-birdy some spoken validation.

"I like your hair color..."

oh yeahhh?

"Yeah, it's really cool. I used to have that same color, in 8th grade."

(true story -- was not BS-ing just to get on her good side)

yeah, it's... really... funnn.... ^_^

(She must've been so starved for conversation during the pandemic, she was struggling to force the words out of her throat. Awww, it's so cute when girls get speechless.)

I, uh... really, like your shirt! (edgy b&w graphic tee)


And that was it -- we went back along our merry ways after our little dance, one step further out of our shells.

When the social mood progresses to further levels of restlessness during this warm-up phase of the cycle, I'll go further and invite her to be thrift store buddies for a little while. Mostly for her to model things, but she could also pick something out for me to try on. I really miss how excited young girls get when they're out clothes shopping and want a random hot guy friend to give them both some unconditional validation as well as some honest feedback. Something they cannot get from a gay BFF -- they want to know if they look hot, and only the attention of a straight guy (preferably one with options) can make that signal palpable.

Speaking of which... there was another alt girl in the next thrift store, who was wearing a dress so sheer you could perfectly see her black bra and bikini-cut underwear. She tried to get my attention a bit, too, passing by me narrowly in the men's jeans aisle, then turning a corner and slowly strutting her ass from side to side, wholly visible under the non-existent dress. This is a clear exit from the vulnerable phase of the cycle, when girls don't want anyone looking at them even partly exposed, and instead resembles the "no pants subway ride," "free the nipple," and other exhibitionistic displays from the last restless and manic phases.

However, I noticed when I first saw her -- like, she's got to be here with her boyfriend or something, otherwise honey-bunny is looking to get catcalled, groped, or slung over someone's shoulder. Well, in a manner of speaking -- she was there with her gay BFF, who was playing the typical eunuch role to his fag-hag friend. Total boner-killer. Minus 10,000 points.

I don't know why girls still don't get it, about not bringing any gay friends out with them when they're trying to get attention from guys. If they wanted to not be approached, then bringing along the gay eunuch makes perfect sense. But when you're dressed half-naked and flexing your buns before a random hot guy? Get him the fuck outta here, Jesus. No eye-contact from me, certainly no verbal compliments or anything further.

Woketards may have made it unsayable in public, but no normal straight guy, especially a hot one looking to flirt with some girls, would ever hang out with gays. It's just not a thing -- no "fag-hag, but a guy". It's already enough to have to befriend or disarm a straight guy friend who you might be out with -- let alone one who will be creepily eying us over even more than you will (they have no filter or shame). It creates such an awkward mood, just... don't.

Final friendly reminder to take off your placebo mask indoors every once in awhile, for awhile, so they can see your face. It gives them a better idea of what you look like, but also makes you more human and approachable -- less faceless. But that's the topic for another post.

April 2, 2021

Fashion models are butt girls, not boob girls, same as other kinesthetic performers

After looking back on the death of fashion during the 2010s, I couldn't resist going back to watch Project Runway from its late 2000s heyday (on DailyMotion). I began with season 3, whose winner, Jeffrey Sebelia, epitomized the era's edgy rocker chic. So many things about the fashion / style ecosystem stood out, now that there's such a stark contrast to the past 10 years when the industry has disappeared.

Sticking to just one of those topics for now, I was surprised to see how much the fashion models leaned toward the butt girl side of the boobs-vs.-butts spectrum. Back when I watched the show regularly, I would've dismissed the idea because none of them have big round rumps, thick thighs, or anything like that. They're so thin!

However, when it's framed in relative terms, as I've done during my ongoing study of the two types of girls (and the two types of guys who like them), it's obvious. When you are basically flat-chested, even a modest tushy qualifies you as a butt girl. And it's not just their proportions in a static pose, but which region they emphasize more. There again, it's so clear that they're drawing more attention to their buns rather than their bust. The pendulous swing of their hips, the flexing of their (mini) glutes that's visible through the fabric, and the overall emphasis on their lower half while strutting.

I noticed this especially from Clarissa, who was also briefly an NFL cheerleader before moving to New York for modeling. (More on the connection between models and gymnasts, dancers, etc., below.)

If they wanted attention to go to their chest, they would be raising and lowering their torso to make them bounce, or pushing either shoulder forward in alternation to make their boobs swing, or leaning forward toward the viewer to dangle the hypnotic object before their eyes. Instead, their gait is defined by an almost rigid torso, restrained arm movements, and the shoulders moving only during the brief transition between poses. Most of the dynamic motion is going on in the fertility region of the waist, belly, hips, ass, and thighs.

Models are also required to have hourglass waist-to-hip ratios (around 25-35), which reinforces their feminine fertility appeal. This eliminates a tiresome explanation about gay men dominating fashion and imposing a masculine ideal upon women, and thereby also alienating straight guy tastes. If the ideal were masculine, they would have tubular waist-hip ratios, and they wouldn't have such doll-like faces and long hair.

Even the Victoria's Secret angels, whose job does draw more attention to the chest, and who are meant to appeal more overtly to straight guys, only have a B cup size. There's just something about bustiness that does not work well with the role of modeling.

If you've been following my work on the two types of girls, you may have already guessed the answer -- butt girls are more corporeal, boob girls more cerebral. So naturally the former are favored in any role that is concrete, kinesthetic, and visual, while the latter are favored for roles that are abstract, symbolic, and verbal.

I've already demonstrated this pattern with examples from other physical domains, like athletes and dancers being butt girls, though models are not so surprising as a further example because it is a highly kinesthetic activity -- just not one that requires lots of strength, and therefore one that doesn't give them a typical shapely athletic figure, where the relatively greater size of their backside would be evident.

But don't let their tall, lithe profiles fool you -- these girls are not the awkward lanky beanpole type, they're very agile, and have fine-tuned proprioception (an awareness of where all the various parts of their body are, how they're moving with respect to each other over time, what the environment is like, and how to navigate through it). This suits them to physical activities that involve coordination more than sheer strength, but that still makes them kinesthetic people.

Just imagine how quickly they would be cast out if they could not walk to a regular rhythm, could not strut with full strides, could not time transitions between poses, could not hold a pose whose balancing demands were more complex than standing symmetrically, and so on and so forth. Of course they have to be kinesthetically gifted.

Cerebral boob girls have a different sort of feminine physicality, or rather lack thereof -- they're more clumsy and klutzy, and in need of physical protection and guidance, which the masculine role is only too eager to fulfill for them. It's cute and adorable in a childlike way, as though they were still learning how to navigate their environments and occasionally smack right into the kitchen counter. Corporeal butt girls have a more impressive, graceful physicality that shows they are done maturing and are ready to hit their stride, as it were.

These differences do not reduce to the narrow mechanics of some activity involving the lower body more than the upper body. True, you cannot strut in full strides without working your glutes, so butt girls have an advantage in achieving that kind of gait. But they're advantaged in physical activities that draw on the upper body as well -- volleyball, softball, tennis, field hockey, basketball, swimming, etc., all make intense demands on the upper body, yet those girls are all butt girls too.

Without even investigating to confirm it, I already know that archery girls are going to be butt girls, despite the much greater involvement of the upper than the lower body in that sport. That has nothing to do with large breasts getting in the way of the bow (a narrow mechanics explanation) -- rather, it's yet another example of boob girls being less coordinated and athletic. General explanations win over narrow ones.

Incidentally, one of the finalists from season 3 of Project Runway, Laura Bennett, excelled at archery after her fashion career. She, like the other designers, is pretty flat-chested. So it's not only the models, but the designers too, who are more on the butt side of the spectrum, since visualizing and constructing 3-dimensional objects that are going to be moving in various ways on a human form, requires a good kinesthetic intuition.

I'll bet the straight-guy fashion photographers are butt men, not boob men, as well, for the same reasons. Who better to consult than Patrick Demarchelier? Here's an iconic portrait of Cindy Crawford, and the cover to the book of his photography across genres:

Cindy Crawford is a great example of all these things tying together. She has only a B cup chest but an hourglass figure, most of her shoots from the supermodel era focused on her hips-ass-and-thighs, she was part of the athletic / fitness trend, and in the '90s she had her own fashion show on MTV (House of Style), back when the industry was still flourishing.

This framework also explains the major racial / ethnic differences in modeling.

First, the most cerebral and biggest-busted group, Ashkenazi Jews, are all but absent among fashion models, in contrast to their dominance in domains that are informational, or that are physical but focus on boobs (some kinds of porn, pin-up photography, etc.).

Those of African descent are far more common in the modeling world than you would expect if it were solely about finding girls who look hot, considering that African facial features are less attractive, hence why they're not so common in porn, pin-up photography, and other domains that are strictly about hotness. It's not that you can't find Africans with symmetric faces, only that a symmetric Italian face looks better than a symmetric African face.

However, if modeling is more about the kinesthetic performance, then African girls are going to punch far above their weight. They're more athletic in general, and specifically in sports involving the lower body like sprinting. They're also more rhythmically skilled, and a stunning runway walk requires more than just maintaining a regular rhythm -- there are distinct stages along the path, each with their own transitional poses, and when to time them and how long to hold the pauses, is difficult to pull off (see an ordinary person attempting to "do a runway walk"). In season 3 of Project Runway, this rhythmic aspect of the walk is best shown by Camilla, a Ugandan model who mainly worked with Laura.

I haven't started watching America's Next Top Model yet, but did notice from the casting that their coach for runway walking is African-American (in addition to the host Tyra Banks).

I reject the explanation that this is just elite wokeness giving quota jobs to black people for representational purposes, since this trend has been going far earlier than the explosion of wokeness during the 2010s. Also, it only extends to people of African descent -- not other recipients of wokeness' representational crusades, such as heavily Amerindian Hispanics, or any region of East Asia.

But Amerindians and East Asians are not athletically dominant over other groups, and are not stereotypically the best dancers, so it's perfectly explained by the framework that modeling is another kind of kinesthetic performance. If you're not very good at one kind, you're not good at the other kinds either. (It's not about height either: while Amerindians and East Asians are not tall on average, there's no, er, shortage of them in absolute numbers who clear 5'9, especially in gigantic populations like the Han Chinese.)

Within Europeans, there's the fascinating ubiquity of Slavs among fashion models. If wokeness were the explanation for why some groups are over-represented, then there should be zero Slavs -- wokeness is an ideology for the integration of subjects under a single sphere of influence, and for the Anglo empire, that has never included Eastern or Southern Slavs, and only very recently and tenuously the Western Slavs.

In fact, the Eastern Slavs led by Russia have been the mortal enemy of the Anglo empire and NATO. They are generally only over-represented in our culture to denigrate them (even then, they're typically played by Ukrainians, the subset of Eastern Slavs most hostile to Russia and friendly toward the Anglo empire).

Still, does it fit within the framework of corporeal vs. cerebral? Of course -- they also punch above their weight among athletes in general, but including those that are more about coordination and agility than brute strength (although they excel in those as well). Dancing, ballet, figure skating, gymnastics, track & field, and -- sure enough -- fashion modeling.

Just because those girls are slender rather than meaty, doesn't mean they're awkward waifs whose wispy forms will blow away in the wind. That's just an act, like their affected tiny little princess voices, to use their strength in a stealthy manner.

It also contradicts the misconception that Slavs belong to the "skinny and busty" type. They are certainly skinny, but they're the rare type of butt girls who are also skinny instead of thick. They may not have big butts, but they don't have big boobs either -- they're immature in development, overall. Still, they lean more toward the butt side of the spectrum, both in how much they're carrying relatively, and where they draw attention to.

Returning to the supermodel era, where was the focus on Paulina Porizkova's body? Not on her average B-cup chest, but on her round, toned, and big-for-the-'80s buns.

Zooming out, boob orientation seems to have replaced butt orientation with the rise of agriculture, sedentary societies, and civilization. And among Europeans, the Slavs were the last to settle down and civilize. I think the false impression we have of them as cerebral comes from their doom-and-gloom mood, which we associate with depressed intellectuals. But Slavs are less likely to do purely abstract philosophy, and more likely to do philosophy-through-literature or something more concrete and relatable. And again, how could a race of nerds produce so many jocks?

But the origin of boob orientation is getting too far afield, so we'll end here and maybe return to that in a later post.

March 26, 2021

Fashion died circa 2010, as a cultural production (more signs of a Dark Age)

I started going through some old designer things of mine during the past week. Both because it's the restless warm-up phase of the 15-year excitement cycle, when people want to dress to get noticed as they emerge from their shells, and to do some spring cleaning / inventory. Not to mention wanting to take part of the 2000s revival -- and not by looking y2k, but the just as ubiquitous "edgy" "chic" of the time.

It just made me realize how, like so many other cultural domains, fashion died off during the 2010s and is basically non-existent during the 2020s. That does not mean people have stopped wearing clothes, taking part in trends, displaying themselves to others, etc. Just like it's not as though people have stopped telling and listening to narratives (high or low in status).

However, the cultural production of fashion has ceased to exist, and it's entirely an audience without a team of creatives making stuff for them. Who are the designers of the 2010s and '20s? No one who was not already a somebody from fashion's heyday of roughly the 1980s through the 2000s. Who are the models -- and supermodels? What are the must-have perfumes and colognes? Who are the photographers? Who are the editors and other curators and directors? What are their outlets? Who are the critics and commentators? Where does the audience actually congregate to browse and buy their stuff? Where else in the culture is fashion the focus -- movies about it, TV shows about it, songs about it?

None of those things exists right now, and looking back, have not existed since about the same 2010 cut-off point for the current and perhaps indefinite cultural Dark Age. And yet the culture was all but saturated in fashion during the 2000s.

More on the specifics below, but first let's complete the overview.

The 2008 financial crisis and recession dealt a decisive blow -- though not in terms of the drying up of funding for some domain like fashion. The central bank printed up $4.5 trillion under Obama, and trillions more under Trump, handing it out to the clueless rich to gamble on or fund their pet projects, and bail out those who lost on their investments earlier.

That removes a tiresome explanation from the list -- that after the Great Recession, luxury became taboo, became unaffordable, etc. No it didn't -- luxury purchasing soared under Obama, as the rich were bailed out by the central bank. Look at how many upscale supermarkets there are, upscale coffee shops, upscale movie theaters, upscale everything.

It's not for want of funding, nor tapped-out consumers, that the would-be culture creators have stagnated. It's something larger, like the disappearance of institutional trust and cohesion, as the 2008 crisis was not just any old recession, but left the elites with the sense that the whole societal project was over, and now it's only a matter of sucking dry whatever is left rather than creating entirely new things.

During societal disintegration, there's not enough camaraderie left to fuel collaborative efforts like cultural production. Society disintegrates from the top, as the elites war against each other for status, and cultural production is an entirely elite affair. Folk culture evolves slowly over time, but the deliberate crafting of narratives, images, and so on, for an audience, belongs to the elites. And the masses like it that way -- they scoff at bad art because "my kid could have made that". They look up to the cultural creatives as a group gifted with some degree of talent and resources, so let's see what you've made out of it -- wow us, knock us over, don't make us make it ourselves.

That suggests that the Dark Age may last for quite awhile, since the American (and broader Anglosphere) elites are only going to get weaker as the Anglo empire has reached its peak of territorial expansion, material exploitation, and downstream effects like cultural influence. Now the only question is how wide the Dark Age will cover -- will it cover pop music too, with every new hit song being some channeling of a style made before 2010? Or are songs less demanding than movies or fashion, so that they will be relatively spared by the Dark Age? Time will tell.

Food seems safest, as it doesn't require lots of collaboration or creativity (in the sense of making something distinctive and original). Food is about familiar faves, whether your own or from another culture, not about conceiving and implementing a truly new creation.

* * *

It shouldn't have to be said, but all of this is objective analysis of a state of affairs, not subjective appraisal of whether you like it or not.

Perhaps the easiest way to detect the death of fashion is from other cultural domains that treated it as their subject (a still-alive subject, not a history, documentary, etc.). During the 2000s, there were multiple hit reality TV shows, running several seasons each, that were about fashion and style -- What Not to Wear, How Do I Look?, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Project Runway, Blow Out, Shear Genius, and America's Next Top Model. Designer Isaac Mizrahi had his own talk show. There were iconic movies such as Zoolander and The Devil Wears Prada (adapted from a hit novel of the same decade).

Songs about the industry appeared earlier in the heyday, circa 1980 -- "The Model" by Kraftwerk, "Fashion" by David Bowie, "Girls on Film" by Duran Duran, and two songs from the '90s called "Supermodel" (one by RuPaul, and another by Jill Sobule for the Clueless soundtrack).

These other cultural domains stopped referring to the fashion industry during the 2010s, because it had died, and they're not about to start referring to it again anytime soon, since it's not coming back from the dead.

The life of the cable TV channel the Style Network encapsulates the broader trend: it was spun off from E! in 1998, was re-branded away from fashion in 2008, ended operations altogether in 2013, and its successor the Esquire Network itself bit the dust in 2017, with no further replacements. There cannot be a viable TV network about a sector of culture that no longer exists, unless it's a historical channel.

The death of models has been discussed for at least a decade now. Here is an old post of mine looking at the generational aspects of its decline, whereby Gen X-ers were the most suited to being models, whether they were teenagers or 30-somethings, and across various time periods from the early '90s to the late 2000s. Millennials never took over. The last two supermodels were Gisele Bundchen and Alessandra Ambrosio, born in 1980 and '81.

Emily Ratajkowski is not a model, but someone who could've been a model if she'd been born 10 years earlier. She is that hot chick from the "Blurred Lines" music video, who has appeared in the zombie runway shows for zombie fashion brands, and zombie publications like the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition.

For awhile now, pop culture celebs have taken over for models -- actresses, singers, hot chicks from music videos, etc. They've so run out of ideas, they've reduced themselves to getting politicians like AOC on magazine covers, and resorted to generic libtard journos blabbing about her white capelet as though they were visually talented and specialized in fashion rather than politics.

The last widely popular, original designer movement was, for lack of a better term, "edgy minimalism" from the 2000s, with or without a "rocker" spin on it. I didn't pay much attention to women's fashion, but for men it was Hedi Slimane at Dior Homme, Ennio Capasa at his own Costume National, Neil Barrett, John Varvatos, Tom Ford, and a few others I may be forgetting. This was not only a movement within fashion, it cross-fertilized with the music domain to craft the personas of rock band members, and movies (not typical projects like dressing someone for an awards show, but re-inventing James Bond's look for the new Daniel Craig movies).

Related was the edgy, though less minimalist, look of the Affliction t-shirt craze, which also cross-fertilized to enhance the personas of MMA fighters and rock band members of the 2000s.

I mention this movement because it was the last to rely on straight men as the audience, not just a narrow niche of gays. Of course, gays did not kill fashion -- rather, once fashion was already dead, gays colonized the ruins and used it as a way to signal to each other that they're gay while out cruising. Wearing a skinny black tie in 2005 didn't mean you were gay -- it meant you were into rock bands like Franz Ferdinand and the Bravery.

Even more appealing to the dreaded toxic masculinity of straight white men was American Apparel during its late 2000s heyday. You could wear that stuff and not look gay -- you were taking part in the '80s revival. You looked like you were part of the hipster sub-culture, not a gay cruising sub-culture. Then there was the girls' clothing -- I don't know what guy wasn't thanking God for those shorts back in 2008. Not to mention the endless models and the porny-polaroid look of their ads. Name anything as iconic since then...

Relating to porno chic, as well as the still existing role of "model", there was the heyday of the website Suicide Girls in the second half of the 2000s. They were not influencers, it was not a social media site, not a porn site, and although not connected to a specific designer or design house, the site did rely on the alt style of the pin-up models for their branding (when you could just search a million porn sites for naked girls of no particular cultural identity). Girls could look at the site for style inspiration, if they were into the alt / goth / punk sub-cultures.

I touched on the importance of thriving scenes having both male and female, and primarily heterosexual members, in the post on the death of sub-cultures.

* * *

Finally, there is the matter of what is going on today, and how is it qualitatively different?

Quite simply, there is no team of cultural creatives producing fashion anymore. No more designers, models, hair and make-up stylists, photographers, layout editors, publishers, public events or spectacles, stores (IRL or online), and cross-fertilization with other cultural domains. Other than that, it's the same!

What this means is there's nobody within the elites who are making fashion, so it's up to the masses to carry out those various functions themselves. But they have no specialized training, and most of them lack the basic visual skills necessary. The outcome is what you would expect if you asked readers to write their own books, or drivers to design and make their own cars.

The abdication of their role as culture creators is just one more aspect of the elites screwing over the masses these days. Some creative types would love to make it happen still, but by and large the tone is callous and dismissive -- the glory days are never coming back, and letting everyone fend for themselves is rationalized as liberating, democratic, and DIY, when it's really disempowering, elitist, and no-one-does-it-at-all because it's not within their abilities.

These days, fashion participants are just about exclusively female, with some token gays and trannies thrown in for wokeness points. Straight guys have no rock band members, MMA fighters, or cool actors to take their cues from, to aspire to, and to want to otherwise culturally affiliate themselves with.

They buy their items from online mega-marts like Amazon, AliExpress, Etsy, Ebay, etc., rather than a store focused on their particular group. And certainly no boutiques dedicated to just one brand. These online stores remove any sense of fashion being part of a physical, social scene that connects culturally similar people.

There are still teams of designers somewhere thinking up the items, and manufacturers making them. But most of it is recycling previous eras rather than trying to do something original. And its approach is more one of fan-service to a fandom, rather than creating something just to create it that way, and relying on customers to appreciate it and buy it.

Hot Topic is a textbook example of that 180-degree shift in approach -- during the 2000s, the customers took their cues from the merchandise that was curated within the stores, then during the 2010s it turned into a fulfillment center for your geek merch of choice, depending on which fandoms you belong to.

There are no models who work as models -- i.e., separate from the target audience of consumers. There is no specialized photography, no set dressing for an ad campaign, and really no ad campaigns at all. There are still images of the item by itself, not on a person, and you imagine what you'd look like with it on.

If you see it on a real-life person, it's probably from another member of the fandom, who has uploaded videos to TikTok or some other site. But the audience cannot put on its own show, so these are not models. It does keep alive the part of fashion where the "end-users" wear the items and display them for others to see -- which, however, was never part of the cultural elites' job. The consumers are still around, just not the culture makers.

Naturally the cameras, microphones, lights, set dressing, editing, etc., are pretty lo-fi since it's the teenagers using their own smartphones, not professional equipment used by trained technicians. So that's not an ad campaign, not even a guerrilla campaign. That all belongs to the part of fashion that happens after it's produced.

There is no over-arching vision for the end result, since there are no designers, tailors, manufacturers, etc. This leads to what is rationalized as eclectic tastes, but is really the consumers jumping from one trend to another based on their daily mood swings. It's not following a cohesive fashion movement, and it's not wearing the uniform of some sub-culture (you can never dress as The Other on a regular basis -- only for blackface value).

In fact, one popular trend on TikTok is the girl trying on 7 outfits from mostly unrelated styles, as the song lyrics say, "Wear this on Monday, wear this on Tuesday..." throughout the week, randomly bouncing from one style to the next.

Again, how can we expect the outcome to be any different? It's not their fault -- they're not the ones who are supposed to design, produce, market, sell, and brand the items, with links to other cultural domains like music or movies. They're just supposed to carry out the functions that the audience or end consumers do -- buy stuff, wear it, display it, etc., which they are in fact carrying out.

By the time things have devolved into individual consumers being tasked with those roles, rather than the cultural creatives doing what they're supposed to, fashion as such is dead. People trying on different looks for others to see, is not fashion as a cultural domain, any more than people telling stories to each other constitutes narrative art.

With no creative, original impulse left at the elite level, perhaps these flailings at the mass level will lead them to fossilize into new folk dress styles. They are not to be altered, and nothing new needs to be created, because that has already been done long in the past, by people we may not remember. Minor details may cycle, like hemlines or degree of color saturation, but the fundamental look will be set in stone.

In the meantime, though, we are living in an era of profound uncertainty and anxiety, as the elites have abandoned the common people and left them to their own devices.

March 21, 2021

No more songs about sub-cultures, nor crushes / relationships within them

Another striking fact of today's society, in addition to the death of sub-cultures circa 2010, is the absence of other cultural "content" about sub-cultures -- naturally, if the thing they would be commenting on no longer exists.

This hit home when I was thinking of writing new lyrics to adapt older sub-cultural anthems to today's landscape. But why should I have to do that in the first place? Don't the songwriters and performers already feel inspired to compose anthems about today's exciting sub-cultures? Well, not if there are no such things to sing about.

I'm not going to catalog the entire history of examples, but just to provide some from the not-too-distant past, the early 2000s had a few about the skater / punk scene of the time. "The Anthem" by Good Charlotte and "Fatlip" by Sum 41 were both about rejecting mainstream culture and joining a sub-culture. Note the difference with today's pseudo-sub-cultures -- they were actual social groups that people joined and participated in, not just a personal aesthetic and an individually curated playlist. Check out the music videos to see that the members were just as female as male.

As for the emo / scene kids of the late 2000s and after, I don't recall many popular songs about them. However, Fall Out Boy did release an anti-anthem "This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race" on their 2007 album, which tried to deflate the in-group-iness of the scene by saying it was no such thing, it's over, it's boring, or whatever. But whether it's self-effacing or a rowdy celebration, it's still a meta-commentary on the sub-culture that it comes from.

During the 2010s, the only songs about something resembling a sub-culture are danceclub anthems, i.e. about the experience of regularly going out to party in clubs. "Tik Tok" by Kesha, "All Night" by Icona Pop, "Take My Hand" and "Famous" by Charli XCX, "New Romantics" by Taylor Swift, "Habits" by Tove Lo, etc. And yet these are not about a social group whose members have enduring bonds and an awareness of belonging to a larger group than just themselves and their narrow friend circle. Rather, they're all about the individual, or at most their friends, going out to clubs to have fun. We don't have labels for the people they're singing about (a la emo, goth, punk, skater, prep, jock, etc.) because they're not genuine sub-cultures -- just people who have similar leisure and lifestyle inclinations.

By the 2020s, things have sunk into such a Dark Age that even the party club "scene" will not inspire anthems. It'll be more about online "communities" like Alt TikTok, Twitch streamers' fandoms, fitness Instagram, heaven forbid weird Twitter, etc. -- and perhaps there will be no more anthems about today's pseudo-sub-cultures at all (other than ones that random anons like me write on the internet, never to be performed, recorded, or widely distributed).

* * *

Aside from overall anthems about sub-cultures, there were also songs about the prospect of forming a romantic relationship within the sub-culture. Any thriving cultural community, whether a church or a music scene, has to be compatible with the other large domains of social life, like dating, mating, and family formation. If joining a sub-culture means you'll get no dates, no attention, no sex, no marriage, and no kids -- it's DOA.

Note how inverted this logic is with the pseudo-sub-cultures of the online world -- there are all sorts of them that not only attract people with poor romantic and sexual prospects, but degrade the prospects of anyone who comes into their orbit. Some of them are even meta about that whole predicament, like the incels.

Contemporary songs about crushing on a sub-cultural girl? Not that I'm aware of. Again I'd have to write my own by adapting earlier examples.

Relating to the gender skew of pseudo-sub-cultures, I just could not put myself in the place of a young guy today, who would be singing about some girl he's following on Alt TikTok. Straight guys have dropped out of sub-cultures altogether, while there are still a fair number of young girls trying to make them happen. If there are no straight guys in the scene, of course there will be no guys singing about the girls in the scene.

In fact, I felt like to make it honest to today's climate, the voice would have to be a girl singing about her crush on another girl in their pseudo-sub-culture. If girls are the only ones showing up, and they have romantic desires, that's going to find an outlet somehow -- and with no guys around, that means each other.

(The more autistic-leaning male brain channels those desires into video games and porn, plus male sexuality is not plastic like female sexuality is, so "gay out of curiosi-tay" is not an option.)

I'm sure there are straight guys out there who are pining away for the girls they scroll through on Tik Tok, or the IRL examples they see on the rare occasion that they leave the house. As the girls' Tik Tok videos show, they dress up and record these videos everywhere, including the most banal gathering spot like the nearest Walmart. So it's not as though the guys couldn't also get dressed up, go to the Walmart, and flirt or at least talk to and hang out with the alt girls who reliably show up.

That's why I have trouble writing a song from their perspective -- they're not going to talk to, or otherwise interact with, those girls IRL. And that would reduce the song to how he's going to work up the courage to DM a girl on the internet, maybe text her, and in his wildest dreams, receive some of her nudes. I'd like to bring the perspective back to IRL, not online, and these guys just do not exist in the real world anymore.

What examples do I have in mind? Just to name a few...

"Surfer Girl" by the Beach Boys

"Sheena Is a Punk Rocker" by the Ramones (not overtly about a crush, but feels implied)

"He's the Greatest Dancer" by Sister Sledge (it's specifically about the disco sub-culture, not merely being a good dancer)

"Punk Rock Girl" by the Dead Milkmen

"Sheena's in a Goth Gang" by the Cramps

"Sk8er Boi" by Avril Lavigne

"The Rock Show" by Blink-182

"Teenage Dirtbag" by Wheatus

"Riot Girl" by Good Charlotte (deep cut, not big hit)

"Girl All the Bad Guys Want" by Bowling for Soup

Before going further, I just want to point out the inversion of meaning that has taken place with "Sk8er Boi," whose opening lines have provided a meme format for the past several years. "He was a boy, she was a girl -- can I make it any more obvious?" In the meme, "boy vs. girl" is taken to mean members of opposite groups, akin to "Democrat vs. Republican," and the meme is about unlikely opposites attracting.

But that's entirely backwards from the original song, in which there is an unlikely pairing -- the skater boy and a popular ballet girl -- but the girl dumps him under peer pressure from her own in-group. The singer is a new girl who is from the same sub-culture as the skater boy, and they are the ones who live happily ever after -- not those from opposing groups. The singer downright disses the other girl from outside their sub-culture. It's a "Rah Rah, Team Us!" anthem, not a celebration of unlikely opposites attracting.

As with the anthems about the sub-culture overall, I don't recall any popular crush songs from the late 2000s and after about emo girls, scene queens, MySpace cuties, etc. I'm thinking of adapting "Punk Rock Girl" into "Mall Goth Girl," though.

Also in line with the overall anthems, there seems to be a peak in the early 2000s. That's not my selective memory, since I was never heavily into that music at the time, or since. Why that might be, is a separate post.

There is one major genre from the late 2000s that fits the pattern, however -- rap songs about crushing on a stripper / go-go dancer, and by implication the kind of girls who were into that club culture and had similar dance moves, style, appearance, musical tastes, and hang-out spots. "Low" by Flo Rida (with the most extensive sub-cultural details), "I Wanna Love You" and "Smack That" by Akon, "Bartender" and "I'm 'n Luv (wit a Stripper)" by T-Pain, "Cyclone" by Baby Bash, etc.

"Dear Maria, Count Me In" by All Time Low doesn't count, despite being about a stripper and being released in the late 2000s. It's not about crushing on her, but trying to make her a big star, and not about the members of the wider sub-culture of nightclubs.

I don't know of any big examples from the 2010s, including quasi-examples from the "club party" scene-but-not-a-sub-culture. Because there were no enduring social bonds there, no one individual would crush on another one, and pine for them over time, hoping to someday work up the nerve to approach them and get to know them.

Apparently, not even the regulars who work there, like the bartenders or the hired dancers, could convince the 2010s club-goers to crush on familiar members of their non-sub-culture. If you're not going to a club as part of a sub-culture, then the bartenders and dancers are not familiar fellow members of the sub-culture, but servants meant to wait on you while you do your leisure / lifestyle activity (which they are not, being at work). Or at best mild background entertainment (not the main reason you went there -- they're not like a band you pay to see perform live).

Which brings us back to the current year. We'll see how well I can adapt the older models, but anons should not have to. And yet, that's where we are -- in a new Dark Age.

March 10, 2021

Maligning Manic Pixie Dream Girls during refractory phase of excitement cycle: Ms. Grundy from Riverdale

Earlier posts have looked at the role that the Manic Pixie Dream Girl plays during two of the three phases of the 15-year cultural excitement cycle.

The type first appears during the restless warm-up phase in order to coax wary men out of their shells, nursing them back to social-emotional health after everyone had been isolating themselves during a refractory state in the vulnerable phase. When they were hyper-sensitive to stimuli, they cocooned. Now that it's time to come out, some need some coaxing. Enter the MPDG for a certain type of guy (sad sack, unlucky in love, and so on).

After that role is done, by the time the manic phase begins everyone is already out of their shells. So now, having nursed others to health, the former MPDG goes on a search for her own fulfillment. It's crucially not an endless self-absorbed journey -- it's a well earned vacation after having given so much of themselves over to others during the previous warm-up phase.

Other examples I missed in that post are Julia Roberts' characters in Runaway Bride (1999) and Eat Pray Love (2010). She had previously played a major MPDG role during a warm-up phase (Pretty Woman from 1990). But in the manic phases of the late '90s and early 2010s, her roles were more about finding love and fulfillment for herself.

At any rate, what happens to the type when the manic phase is over, and energy levels crash into a refractory state during the vulnerable phase? The last thing guys in that phase would want is a chipper extravert trying to coax them out of their shells. Their hyper-sensitive state leads them to push the type away, and even malign or demonize them, just to make sure she doesn't get close.

In the comments to the second post, I mentioned the example of Lost in Translation from the vulnerable phase of the early 2000s. There's a character who would've been a straightforward MPDG in the early '90s (she seems to be patterned on SanDeE* from L.A. Story, with the talk about cleansing the toxins out of your body). Only in the vulnerable phase, she's portrayed as an intrusive, talky, annoying airhead, who ScarJo's character tries to shut up with a curt "No" when asked a question by her.

Still, as memorable as that character was, her screen time was brief. I've always been on the lookout for MPDG types in vulnerable-phase culture, but generally they're just not included at all. No need to think about them -- just imagining their interactions with you could painfully overload your senses during a refractory state.

However, while watching Riverdale season 1 (2017), I found the perfect example of how the type is treated during a vulnerable phase -- Ms. Grundy. At first she seems to check all the familiar boxes of the MPDG: cute, charmingly quirky appearance (glasses, hair in a bun, and an oversized blouse or cardigan), free-spirited, extraverted enough to make the first move, motivating her love interest to do the best he can in his ambitions, and reassuring a down-on-his-luck guy that he's love-worthy.

But there's a twist -- she's the high school music teacher, and her male love interest is one of her students, Archie, the protagonist of the series. He's currently playing football, but wants to pursue songwriting instead, and she coaches him musically and encourages him emotionally, so that he can eventually become the greatest musician he can be. And he'd been unlucky in love before because he was just a plain-looking freshman. She begins an affair with him during the summer before sophomore year, when he's growing into a random hot guy.

So the usual nurturing role that the MPDG plays is maligned by treating it as a predatory role. She's not an earthly guardian angel -- she's a wolf-in-sheep's-clothing. The two of them were at the location of the disappearance of another high school boy, which is the central mystery of the season. Ms. Grundy leans on Archie not to bring any information of his whereabouts that day to the sheriff, parents, or other adults, for fear that her affair will be discovered and cost her her job. So the type is shown as manipulative on top of predatory.

Even worse, it turns out that she's assumed a false identity and won't discuss her previous personal or work life. Deceitful as well!

The writers do give her a break on her way out: she only changed her name while fleeing an abusive husband, and she's allowed to leave town without being targeted by law enforcement as long as she doesn't come back. I'm not going to watch season 2, which the fans themselves say is much worse than season 1, but there she's murdered outright by the criminal threat that pervades the second season.

All in all, very negative treatment of the type. Not only should you not accept her interactions, you will be harmed and done-in by her supposedly good motives, so keep her out of the picture altogether.

In fact, the writers were destroying not one but three tropes of the free-wheeling late 2000s warm-up phase -- the MPDG, the hot woman high school teacher sleeping with a male student, and the cougar (this is distinct from the teacher role, since the teacher could be young, like 25, whereas Ms. Grundy is in her 30s).

As she's leaving the town, she's channeling two iconic characters from separate warm-up phases in the past, both on the theme of inappropriate age gaps -- the early '60s Kubrick version of Lolita (wearing red heart sunglasses), and perhaps without intending it, The Crush from the early '90s (the shallow focus, portrait lens, Pacific Northwest setting outdoors in daylight with a tree-lined quaint neighborhood in the background -- and a vintage car for good measure).

The only warm-up phase they did not malign was the late '70s -- maybe she could have watched Manhattan at the drive-in with Archie, and then when his dad or his friends are watching TV later on, that movie comes on and leaves a bitter taste in his mouth. Or maybe the soundtrack could have ironically played "Hot Child in the City" while she was loading her final things and driving off.

And in the interest of profiling the actresses who play MPDG roles -- either a proper role during the warm-up phase, or their successor roles in the other two phases -- Sarah Habel, who plays Ms. Grundy, fits the mold perfectly. Most importantly, she was born during a manic phase, indeed the same one as the other actresses who were proper MPDGs during the late 2000s heyday of the role -- born in the early '80s. Like the others, she imprinted on a zeitgeist of invincibility, risk-taking, and carefree resilience (and re-imprinted on such a zeitgeist during her second birth of adolescence at age 15, that time in the late '90s manic phase). That disposition is necessary for someone whose role is to coax others out of their shell and encourage them to pursue their ambitions without being paralyzed by the risks involved.

Physically, she has an hourglass waist-to-hip ratio, signaling the feminine nature required for a nursing role. Not that height is a good predictor of the role, but she happens to be a literal pixie at 5'2. I can't tell if she's a butt woman rather than a boob woman, like the norm for the type, but she is portrayed as a corporeal rather than cerebral person in the TV show -- she's not primarily a songwriter or composer, but a performer who has honed a kinesthetic craft (she's a Juilliard-trained cellist).

As of last year the vulnerable phase has been over, so we should see some proper MPDG roles coming soon. Sarah Habel has already proven she can play the part -- only this time, her acting would serve a sincere purpose in the TV show or movie, rather than to malign the character type.

February 27, 2021

Sub-cultures are dead, as straight guys drop out and cocoon online after the Great Financial Crisis

What really stands out about the so-called sub-cultures today is the total absence of guys in general, and straight guys specifically. It's 99% girls, whether straight, bi, lesbian, or otherwise. There are a few token gay guys and trannies, but even those demos are mostly absent. Actual straight guys, though, have totally checked out of sub-cultural communities.

It's revealing that the labels for today's main sub-cultures contain the word "girls" -- e-girls and alt-girls. That's no accident -- there's no such thing as e-boys or alt-guys. Before, sub-cultures had gender-neutral names because their membership included both in roughly equal numbers -- scene, emo, goth, grunge, punk, rave, new wave, metal, disco, etc.

I live in thrift stores, and I've never seen a guy who was "an alt-girl, only the guy version". Never see them in used media stores, or any other stores, in parks, loitering in parking lots, waiting outside clubs or bars, or walking down the main drag on Saturday afternoon or night with the actually existing alt-girls. Finding alt-girls in those places is perfectly ordinary, and they often hang out in groups (same-sex, though).

Can you imagine going to a mall in the 2000s, and only seeing girls at the Hot Topic, with literally zero emo guys anywhere to be seen? Or a goth dance club in the '80s, and there's only goth girls, no goth guys at all? This may be unprecedented in sub-cultural history.

"Guys who have social links to alt-girls" does not constitute being a member of their sub-culture. The guys have to clearly identify their membership badges -- certain hairstyles, clothing, shoes, slang and shibboleths, haunts outside the home, and so on and so forth.

Just like with the emo guys from the 2000s -- same severe side part as the girls, with the bangs threatening to cover the eyes, same skinny jeans, same predominantly black and white color palette, same style of tattoos if old enough, same iPod playlists (My Chemical Romance, Paramore, etc.), same use of "sick" to mean cool, same hang-out spots (the mall, Hot Topic especially). When you saw a group of them, they were clearly members of the same sub-culture, just a male and a female version.

Why does it matter anyway? Because a sub-culture must foster further social-emotional development, the most universal kind being courtship, dating, mating, and perhaps family formation. People want to date others who are fairly similar to themselves culturally, rather than having to date outside their group. If the scene is large enough, and mixed-sex, then there's no problem dating your own kind. That's true for other kinds of sub-cultures like a religious sect.

That was still common with the emo/scene kids in the late 2000s -- check YouTube for "emo couple 2008" or whatever, and you'll see plenty of vignettes of emo bf + emo gf holding each other, looking into each other's eyes, and the usual mushy stuff. Only they were sporting his-and-hers severe side parts, his-and-hers skinny jeans, sharing a pair of earbuds to listen to Fall Out Boy, etc.

With today's single-gender sub-culture, the girls must necessarily look for potential crushes, bfs, and husbands outside of their cultural group. Only it's worse than it sounds -- it's not just that guys have abandoned a specific sub-culture, like the e-girl / alt-girl crowd. They've dropped out altogether. It's not as though there's some other sub-culture that does have guys, that the alt-girls can find boyfriends from.

Skater bros are not much of a sub-culture anymore, with a clearly identifiable look, slang, music and other cultural preferences, and so on, the way that punks or grunge guys or emos did in their heyday. Nor do stoners, which was never much of a sub-culture anyway, but they're even less distinct culturally these days.

So, the alt-girls would have to go outside of sub-cultures altogether, maybe to the jocks or preps or whatever else there is. Aside from that cultural divide being too wide for long-term relationships to last, those guys don't hang out in public either -- they too are busy staying home, plugging their brain into the digital matrix, and ignoring girls IRL (which they rationalize by not wanting to run afoul of the Horny Police).

This seismic change really struck me lately as I've been browsing Alt TikTok compilations on YouTube. There are no guys in them, and the few who do appear are mostly gays or trannies.

"Where are the e-boys who supposedly sport similar styles as the e-girls, but only in the guys' version?" "Where are the guys who are trying to one-up the other guys within their sub-culture, trying to lead by example, teaching their fellow guys where to go or how to behave in order to be cool, or whatever other role they're playing in the Alt community?"

The videos that YouTube's algorithm recommends after viewing Alt TikTok compilations do not feature straight guys either, but again gays and trannies.

It's not because the alt-girls are lesbians, and the would-be alt-guys feel they would not be welcome -- most are indeed straight, although with more bi and lesbian girls than the nation at large.

And how could guys get the impression that alt-girls don't want male attention and interaction? They're leaving the home, not staying holed up. They're lounging around public spaces, not scurrying from one place to another all business-like. They could not be displaying themselves in a more attention-getting fashion, and in ways meant to show off their girly cuteness -- big hair, make-up, belly-baring crop tops, leg-revealing skirts, knee-high boots... it's obvious.

Yet, where are the guys who they're hoping to see in these places, styled in a similar way? They're AWOL, barricading themselves at home, cocooning in online activity, and even then in corners of online that are 99% girl-free (video games, porn streams, Twitch chats, weird Twitter circles, and the like).

This is unlike earlier times, when only nerds and drop-outs behaved that way. In the 2000s, there were still sub-cultures that thrived because enough straight guys did not burrow away in cyberspace. Now, even the would-be cool guys have totally given up and chosen digital opium dens and pod life generally.

These changes in male behavior must be affecting some related changes in female behavior, like the rise of bi-curiosity among girls, particularly over the past 10 or so years. It's not lesbianism, as though they were giving up on guys altogether. Lesbians are no more common than they were decades ago, but girls who say they're bi, or they've experimented now and again, or they think girls are really hot, etc., have become a substantial minority.

Female sexuality is more malleable than male sexuality, so perhaps the drying up of "guys who are willing to show up" has led a lot of girls to adapt their attraction to those who actually do show up, namely their fellow girls. You don't get rewarded for hiding yourself, ignoring the opposite sex, and taking zero risks, insulated by porn girls who trick you into thinking you've already got sexual options.

If it's their fellow girls who are willing to put themselves out there, take the risk of rejection, and show some attention to the other attendees of public spaces, then it's their fellow girls who will get rewarded.

There's plenty more to say on this topic, and I'll add more as it occurs to me in the comments. To conclude for now, though, how about placing a rough date on the death of new sub-cultures? I think 2010 is a round enough number -- the whole emo/scene thing was still going into the early 2010s, but it had been born earlier. And the skater bros were still their own scene that lasted into the early 2010s (with clearly identifiable markers like the Southwestern geometric tribal prints, flat-brim hats, and other staples of the Ridiculousness look), but they too were born before 2010.

I can't think of any new sub-cultures after the scene kids, who got started back in the late 2000s. So it's not some recent cause, but one that unfolded over the previous decade. It's hard not to notice the coincidence with the Awokening of the 2010s that is still ongoing. Rising levels of polarization means that no group can hold together -- obviously not the entire nation, but not even either of the major parties, both of which are fraught by internal factionalism like never before. And perhaps not even a smaller-scale group like a sub-culture.

Still, the fact that guys have totally dropped out of sub-cultures, when they have not dropped out of other areas of life (such as politics), requires a separate explanation. It's not the #MeToo panic, since that only took off in the late 2010s, and the "boo men" hysteria has been over for a year now anyway.

It's not the rise of streaming platforms, video games, etc. -- technology adapts to social changes, not the other way around. If guys had no interest in shutting themselves off from the real world, Twitch and gamer-girl streamers would never have taken off the ground.

A more likely culprit is the aftermath of the Great Financial Crisis, which young people never recovered from materially, and which dashed their hopes of attaining a decent life for good. Maybe they waited to see if Obama's first few years would restore the youthful optimism and aspirational attitude of the '80s, '90s, and 2000s -- but by 2011 and Occupy Wall Street, they concluded that no, life is going to suck forever, so why fucking bother?

It's not so much the narrow superficial worries over "What if a girl I meet finds out I live at home at age 25?" Again, female sexuality is malleable, they'll adapt to that new reality -- especially since they themselves are living at home. It's the loss of a larger sense of purpose and meaning and direction and ambition -- might as well check out for good, then.

You might be chuckling at the thought that alt sub-cultures would be so affected by dashed career ambitions, as though their members could never become careerist as they matured. News flash: all the hippies sold out, all the punks became yuppies, and the scene kids wanted to eventually suck from the corporate teat in Silicon Valley or Hollywood. Belonging to a sub-culture when you're young is orthogonal to your material goals for later in life.

We would only expect to see sub-cultures escape unscathed from the ongoing crisis of circa 2010 if their members were mostly anti-materialist. They'd hardly welcome the news of "your job will suck forever, if you have one," but they'd get over it by escaping even further into their sub-culture, which does not require high income in order to take part.

But most people -- including would-be members of a sub-culture -- are materially minded, and get more than a little bummed out when material security is finished for the forseeable future. It takes such a gloom-and-doom toll on them that they don't even bother showing up for other social-cultural activities like forming and maintaining a cultural group -- whether that's mall goths, the local church, or their neighborhood civic associations.

Girls, however, are not so fixated on being a material breadwinner for their sense of purpose and self-worth. So despite also recognizing how screwed over they and their male counterparts are always going to be, it doesn't weigh them down to the same degree. They still have enough energy to direct toward social bonds, including sub-cultures.

What remains to be seen is how they'll adapt to the awareness that sub-cultures going forward are going to be almost exclusively female. Will they accept it as better than nothing, maybe become bi-curious according to the trend, or will they figure it's not worth the hassle if it's going to be such a hen party all the time? Certainly for now the doomer Zoomers are going with the former response, but that won't necessarily continue with future generations of girls. We'll have to wait and see.

February 23, 2021

Lesbians' non-metropolitan tastes: Vampires, witches, the supernatural

A series of info-graphics from the NYT shows where various TV shows from the mid-2010s were popular around the country, especially across the metropolitan vs. small town / suburban / rural divide.

(It's safe to click -- from 2016, before all media were hijacked by the intel agencies during the Trump admin and began spewing nothing but Establishment propaganda. Before then, they had occasional articles of interest about TV shows' regional popularity, the history of "fuck yeah" Tumblr blogs, etc.)

At the bottom, the map for The Vampire Diaries shows a fairly even popularity across all geographic divides, but it was still a bit more popular outside of cities. And certainly more popular in heartland regions, particularly in Mormon land.

The article notes that most shows involving the supernatural were more popular in the non-metropolitan areas, as opposed to big-city faves like SNL, the Simpsons, or Game of Thrones (palace intrigue being most popular in the power center of the Bos-Wash corridor).

Aside from hit TV shows, blockbuster movies like the Twilight franchise (whose creator is Mormon) were stereotypically more popular in flyover suburbs than in coastal megalopolises.

We can rule out levels of taste in these differences, since the typical city-slicker (but not the flyover suburbanite) consumes flavorless dreck like the post-'90s SNL, the post-'90s Simpsons, Sex and the City, the Real Housewives franchise and spin-offs like Vanderpump Rules, and so on and so forth. Metropolitans don't go to The Met, they're too busy binging garbage on Netflix (just a different flavor from the Netflix bingers in Indiana).

It's a genre difference, regardless of taste level -- supernatural and paranormal stuff is more popular outside big cities, and slice-of-elite-life fare is more popular within cities.

But what I really found interesting about these differences is their adherence to the laws of gay vs. lesbian culture -- gays having metropolitan tastes, and lesbians having non-metro tastes. I've discussed this general point before, but did not know about this case.

Having devoted more study to lesbians over the past year, I already knew they were big fans of Twilight specifically, vampires, witches, the occult, Tarot cards, etc. But I didn't know how distinctly non-metropolitan those interests were. I'd heard allegations of there being a witchcraft scene in Brooklyn -- but those must mainly be hicklib transplants bringing their flyover tastes into ground zero for metropolitanism.

The setting for supernatural fiction has almost always been in the country rather than the city, but I thought urbanites would still have a taste for Gothic material despite living as far away from the setting as possible. But no, they're too absorbed in they gay striver palace intrigue bullshit.

And as those NYT maps show, I don't mean "gay" generically -- Sex and the City, the Real Housewives, etc., are both distinctly urbanite and distinctly gay -- not lesbian (despite one of the Sex and the City actresses being a lesbian IRL).

This is also not a difference between men and women, as though men were drawn to Game of Thrones while women were drawn to Twilight. Urbanite women love Real Housewives and are bored by vampires, while non-metro men are drawn into supernatural or paranormal narratives, while finding Real Housewives insufferable.

This is another example of the social-cultural divide between "girls and gays" vs. "lads and lesbians". "Girls" meaning high body count, urbanite, fast-living, and so on. "Lads" meaning low body count, non-metro, slow-living, and so on. Straight guys in the former being degenerate, straight girls in the latter being wholesome.

It's also another wonderful example of lesbians resembling peri-menopausal women (whereas gays are stunted in the 5-year old stage of "ewww, girls are yucky"). Not only was Twilight popular in flyover suburbs, it was an unexpected smash hit with housewives who were finished with their reproductive career. See this contemporaneous review from New York Mag of the "Twilight moms" phenomenon.

Middle-aged women were not into Twilight because they were horny cougars lusting after the young heartthrobs -- at their age, they're done being horny, and of course lesbians are always post-horny.

Incidentally, the only time I've overheard a gay guy referring to Twilight was in a Starbucks during the height of its popularity. He was at least 40, and was remarking how hot the male "eye candy" was to the female barista. She, being around 30, said "Nah, that's a little too young for me to be eye candy." His reply in the most flaming low-pitched voice possible: "Candy is candyyy..."

Rather, the housewives interviewed in the late 2000s said it's the focus on courtship and eventual pair-bonding, as opposed to hookups with randos, that makes the vampire stories compelling, as well as the small-town setting where everyone knows one another. Exactly in line with lesbian tastes, and the polar opposite of gay tastes (promiscuity in an anonymous city).

I'll probably break down and watch the Twilight movies when I find them cheap at a thrift store, not only to better understand lesbians but also a big chunk of late 2000s culture that I found cheesy (and probably still would). For now, I've found the first two seasons of The Vampire Diaries for a couple bucks on DVD, and the first season so far is entertaining enough.

I suspect it'll be better than the Twilight movies because the cast includes the entire small town, adults as well as high schoolers, whereas I think the focus in Twilight is mostly on the angsty teens. It makes the drama more interesting, as the different age groups are both acting in their own social circles but also must bridge the divide with the other age group, since the supernatural problem is targeting them all.

It's like Twin Peaks in that respect -- another show I'm sure is more popular with lads-and-lesbians than with girls-and-gays. Certainly the Julee Cruise dream-pop soundtrack resonates more with lesbians than gays.